…says opposition party is hungry and desperate to return to power

Come out; account for 16-year tenure-APC challenges PDP

Soni Daniel, Abuja

Apparently emboldened by the successful conduct of its national convention last weekend, the ruling All Progressives Congress on Monday attacked the opposition Peoples Democratic Party for plotting to stop the convention through a court order and heating up the polity with ceaseless negative activities in recent times.

The Minister of Information, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, who threw the jabs at the opposition party at a press conference in Abuja, said it was unbecoming of an opposition party to seek to stop the conduct of another party’s national convention and to adopt antics geared towards destroying the country just because it is no longer in power.

The minister, who chronicled the numerous antics engaged by the PDP in recent times against the APC, said it was an act of desperation for the opposition to seek to use a court order to stop its national convention and to scheme to incite a national mass protest similar to the 2020 ENDSARS, that led to the loss of many innocent lives and property.

The minister challenged the PDP to come out of hiding and present the achievements it recorded in the 16 years that it held the reins of power in Nigeria and stop behaving strangely under the guise of opposition and cautioned it to exercise patience till 2023 in order to test its popularity or acceptability at the polls.

Mohammed said it was also disdainful for the PDP to seek to erase what he called “seven years of unprecedented achievements by the Buhari Administration” and asked the opposition party to be more remorseful for the havoc it caused Nigeria.

Mohammed said: “In the most egregious show of shamelessness and a blatant refusal to be remorseful, they even had the audacity to express righteous indignation that the damage they inflicted on the country in their 16 years of misrule has not been totally undone in just seven years. In other words, those who brought the country to its knees are now accusing those working hard to repair things of non-performance. They said they are ready to rescue Nigeria. Pray, where do kidnappers rescue their victims? These same guys who kidnapped the fortunes of their country are suddenly posing as rescuers. CAVEAT EMPTOR. Buyers beware! NIGERIANS BEWARE!

 “We are not unmindful of the challenges facing this Administration, either in the area of economy, security, power, etc. But we have risen stoutly to the challenges, judiciously utilizing the very scarce resources that we have, and we are making an impact. Nigerians are making great sacrifices because they know that today’s difficulties are like the pangs heralding the birth of a new baby. Today’s pains won’t endure, but the new Nigeria that will emerge will surely do!

“The people on the other side say infrastructure is not important. In their derisive posturing, they ask: ‘na infrastructure we go chop?’ But they have forgotten the role of infrastructure in economic development via higher productivity and service delivery, job creation and poverty alleviation, just to mention a few. Little wonder they frittered away the resources of the commonwealth instead of using such to develop our infrastructure during their time in the saddle.

 “We are proud that in our time, Nigerians are once again able to travel by rail, this time in total comfort and safety. Lagos-Ibadan, Abuja-Kaduna, Warri-Itakpe-Ajaokuta and Abuja Metroline are shining examples of our rail revolution. And we are just getting started. We have the rehabilitation of the Port-Harcourt-Maiduguri Eastern Narrow Gauge Railway project that cuts through Rivers, Imo, Anambra, Benue, Enugu, Ebonyi, Gombe, Yobe, Adamawa and Borno states, and the Bonny Deep Sea and Railway Industrial Park. We have the Kano-Maradi standard gauge line that passes through some economic hubs of the country, including Kazaure, Daura, Katsina and up to the border town of Jibiya and the city of Maradi in Niger Republic.

“We are proud of the Integrated National Security and Waterways Protection Infrastructure (also known as Deep Blue Asset), aimed at managing, controlling and protecting Nigerian waterways towards the advancement of coastal prosperity. We are proud that in our time, long abandoned roads and bridges are either being repaired or built anew. The Lagos-Ibadan Expressway, which is due to be completed this year, is already offering a joyful ride to happy motorists, saving lives and man hours in the process,” Mohammed said.

Turning to roads, Mohammed boasted that the APC administration had built many roads in the country, among them, the  26.27km Nnewi-Uduma Road, Sections I and II in Enugu and Ebonyi States; the 100.08km Kano-Maiduguri Road Section II (Shuwarin-Azare) in Jigawa and Bauchi States; the 106.34km Kano-Maiduguri Road Section III (Azare-Potiskum) in Bauchi and Yobe States; the 24km Vandeikya-Obudu Cattle Ranch Road Phase I and II in Benue and Cross River States and the 304km Sokoto-Tambuwal-Jega-Kontagora-Makera Road.

According to the minister, the roads were just a part of the over 800 ongoing road (covering 13,000km) and bridge projects (37 of them undergoing maintenance and repairs, pointing out that the government has undertaken at least one road and one bridge in each state of the federation.

Mohammed also made reference to the 2nd Niger Bridge, which is being primed for commission in October this year, claiming that the PDP administration had failed to do any meaningful work on the key infrastructure after having ‘completed it on paper’ many times.

He boasted that apart from the 2nd Niger Bridge the administration had also built or repaired the Ikom Bridge in Cross River; Loko-Oweto Bridge in Nasarawa; Ibi Bridge in Taraba and Bamenda-Mfun Bridge linking Nigeria and Cameroon; Chanchangi Bridge along Takum-Wukari Road in Taraba; Koton-Karfe Bridge in Kogi State and Bodo Bonny Road/Bridge in Rivers.

The minister also boasted that the administration had delivered housing units in 34 states of the federation and completed four new airports terminals in Kano, Abuja, Lagos and Port Harcourt derided the claim by the PDP that most of the projects being completed and commissioned by the Buhari administration were started by the opposition party.

Mohammed also boasted that while the PDP left the nation’s aviation industry in tatters, the present administration has constructed and installed Boeing 737 full motion flight Simulator at the Nigerian College of Aviation Technology (NCAT) in Zaria, and a fully-automated Aircraft Firefighter Training Simulator also at NCAT,the first of its kind in Africa.

The minister also boasted about the success of the National Social Investment Programme (NSIP) is the

biggest of its kind in sub-Saharan Africa and the N-Power scheme which has benefited over one million Nigerians and the Government Enterprise and Empowerment Programme (GEEP) which has benefitted 4 million people; the National Home Grown School Feeding Programme (NHGSFP) is providing quality meals daily to 10 million primary school pupils, in addition to empowering over 100,000 cooks and the same number of small holder farmers in the local areas where the schools are located; the Household Uplifting Programme (HUP), which has the Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT) as its flagship intervention, provides N5,000 monthly grants to almost 2 million eligible households across the country, in addition to the 1 million Urban Poor who are benefitting from the Conditional Cash Transfers.

Mohammed also made reference to the impact of the agricultural projects and programmes promoted by the Buhari administration which has boosted rice, cassava and other cash crops and reduced the country’s reliance on imports and saved huge cash for development.

Mohammed noted, “While they frittered away the nation’s resources importing rice and other staples, this Administration has worked progressively to ensure our food security as a nation. Today, rice production in Nigeria has increased to over 7.5 million metric tons annually, thanks to the Anchor Borrowers Programme (APB). Before the programme, the average production in Nigeria between 1999 to 2015 was less than 4 metric tons annually. Before this administration launched the ABP, there were only 15 standard Rice mills in Nigeria. As of today, we have over 50 Standard and integrated Rice mills creating jobs and reducing unemployment.

Across Nigeria, more than 4.8 million smallholder farmers have so far been supported by the Anchor Borrowers’ Programme, with resultant increase in the production of 23 agricultural commodities including maize, rice, oil palm, cocoa, cotton, cassava, tomato and livestock. In the words of Mr. President, during the launch of the rice pyramid in Abuja, the Anchor Borrowers’ Programme is working; there is no doubt that Nigeria is making steady and assured progress towards self-sufficiency in food production.

“In fact, no government has invested in agricultural revolution like the Buhari Administration. They say ‘oh, but Nigerians are still hungry, and the price of the staples is still high’. Our response is that the impact of our agriculture revolution will soon be felt on dining tables across the country. In this regard, we want to appeal to our farmers to be more patriotic by not allowing foreigners to buy their commodities at farm gates. They should reciprocate the support being given to them by the Federal Government by slowing down on exports in order to increase the supply of local staples and also reduce prices.

The minister also praised the nation’s military for the successes it has recorded against terrorists and other forms of criminals in the country owing to the unrelenting financial and materials provided by the federal government under President Muhammadu Buhari.

But the minister dismissed as untenable the comparison of the prices of foodstuffs, petrol and diesel when PDP was in office and now, pointing out that the rise in the prices of energy and foods was not peculiar to Nigeria but a global trend.

“What we are saying is that this increase is a global trend, and it’s not limited to any country. Therefore, presenting it as a Nigerian problem is mischievous, disingenuous and a clear act of misinformation. Let me add that the crippling fuel shortage experienced across the country in recent times has started easing, as the measures put in place by the government begin to work,” the minister said.

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